“I don't want you to be alarmed.”
Coulson looked up from his desk but kept his face free from any sort of expression.
“Right.” Clint rubbed at the back of his neck. “It might be easier if I show you.”
An expression did flitter across Coulson's face then, one with which Clint was becoming increasingly familiar.
“I suppose I can spare ten minutes.”
“Twenty...uh, twenty might be better.”
Only years of working for Nick Fury kept Coulson from rolling his eyes. Instead he locked his computer terminal, put the lid on his pen, after a glance in Clint's direction holstered his weapon and then stepped out of his office, locking it behind him.
It wasn't unusual for Coulson and Clint to be seen leaving Coulson's office but it was unusual for Coulson to do so armed, so a few eyebrows were raised.
Coulson signalled with a twist of his fingers that everything was okay but didn't slow his pace as Clint lead the way out into the corridor.
He did frown though when Clint turned towards the residential block.
“Just...” Clint waved towards the door and Coulson sighed.
“I better not need to shoot anybody,” he said.
Clint laughed nervously and Coulson was not reassured. He did continue to follow Clint though, out of the building and across the quad to the dorm units for trainees, new hires and specialists who spent more time travelling than at home and for whom permanence was not a requirement.
Instead of heading up the stairs to Clint's third floor suite Clint got onto the elevator and pushed the button for the roof.
“The roof?” Coulson asked.
“Well, you know. Sometimes I just like a challenge.” He waited, but Coulson didn't respond. “And I go up there to practice.” Still no response, though Clint knew that was technically out of bounds. “And well...I sort of stopped a burglary?”
“A – what?” Coulson asked.
The doors opened and Clint moved out, scanning the area as he did so. Coulson did the same, hand held loosely near his weapon.
“They were over here...oh yeah, still here.”
Coulson stopped dead in his tracks.
“I didn't have anything to tie them up with so I just used their jackets.”
“So I see,” Coulson muttered. He took a few steps closer and shook his head in disbelief. Somehow Clint had managed to disarm six assailants - their guns and knives were in a neat little pile by the elevator door – and tie their arms together and behind their backs using the arms of their jackets to secure them in place.
“You didn't think to call anyone?”
“I got you,” Clint said.
Coulson gave him his best “don't bullshit me look” and then pulled out his phone.
“Deputy Director Hill, please....Maria? We have a situation...Of course it's Barton...The roof, building 5. I need a clean up crew.”
* * * * *
Maria Hill glared at Coulson and pointed a small umbrella she'd swiped from a discarded cocktail at him.
“I'm not drunk enough for this conversation,” Coulson said.
“You're on duty, you shouldn't be drinking at all.”
Coulson took a pointed sip of his water. “We could be having this drink in your office,” he said.
“I don't keep alcohol in my office,” she replied. She took a pointed slug of her beer.
“Why are we...”
“Because,” Maria interrupted, “Clint Barton exists.”
Coulson found he was smiling before he could stop himself.
“You should ask him out," Maria suggested.
“I don't date at work, you know that.”
“You don't date outside of work, either.”
Coulson took the umbrella she was still waving around out of her hand. “Pot, kettle.”
“Talk of the devil,” Maria said.
Coulson slowly looked up. Clint was with a couple of other specialists but he peeled away from them once he saw Coulson and Maria.
“Hey boss. Ma'am.”
“Ma'am me again and you'll be on latrine duty for the rest of the year.”
Clint blinked. “Understood.”
“And he's not your boss, I am.”
“Also understood,” Clint said stiffly.
“Oh, sit down and have a beer,” Maria said. “I'm buying.”
She got up and headed to the bar, practically pushing Clint down into her vacated seat next to Coulson.
“It's been a long week,” Coulson explained. “Your friends on the roof turned out to be part of a wider AIM operation. There's been a lot of fallout.”
“Should I apologise? 'Cause I feel like I shouldn't.”
Coulson huffed a small laugh. “The leader was a double agent inside the FBI; Maria's never happier than when she's showing other agencies all the ways they're wrong.”
“Got you,” Clint responded with a soft smile. “You not drinking?”
“I'm on call.” Coulson checked his watch. “I'm due back soon, finishing touches to an operation in Cuba.”
“It's a shame we don't have very long together,” Clint said, his voice dropping to a low rumble.
Coulson tilted his head curiously and Clint put a hand on Coulson's thigh under the table. The shiver that went though Coulson's body was completely involuntary and would have been mortifying if Clint hadn't scooted even closer to him.
“Though, I am a pretty fast worker,” Clint purred.
Coulson refused to let himself blush. “What brought this on?”
“If you knew how many times I'd touched myself after watching your combat training sessions with the newbies, you wouldn't need to ask.”
Coulson had been aware that Clint often sat in on his training sessions but he hadn't been expecting that sort of feedback. He was just about to lean forward and possibly embarrass himself in a bar full of his colleagues when the emergency ring tone of his phone went off.
He grabbed it on its second ring, not even bothering to apologise to Clint.
“Talk to me...He did what? Who authorised that?...Has he lost his mind? No, don't answer that. I'm heading back now.”
Clint had already moved out of his way but Coulson did absently squeeze Clint's arm as he passed, but then forgot all about him as he tried to salvage his mission.
* * * * *
Coulson was staring up at the ceiling, counting tiles. He could think of many more things he would rather be doing and many more places he would rather be doing them, but since sleep refused to come, this is what his life amounted to now.
“I would have brought donuts, but the nurses are kinda strict, so...”
Coulson turned his head and watched Clint deposit a bag of grapes onto the side table. He then spun the chair next to Coulson's bed and straddled it.
“I don't think I've ever seen you sit in a chair properly,” Coulson said.
Clint laughed. “Glad to see they've got you on the good stuff.”
Coulson groaned. He hated painkillers. He'd rather be in pain.
“No, you wouldn't,” Clint said. “And I wouldn't want to see you in pain,” he added, more softly.
“This wasn't your fault.”
Clint snorted. “Much?”
“You couldn't have known...”
“I saw him though. I saw him planting the bomb.”
“Clint. You alerted us the second you saw him. If he were a better bomb maker we'd have had time to fall back. It's not your fault it went off before it was supposed to.”
“Why do you always have to be so logical?” Clint asked with a pout.
Coulson tried not to laugh, the aborted movement straining at his ribs. Clint moved forward quickly and helped Coulson get into a more comfortable position.
When Coulson was settled Clint found himself hovering, not quite touching his arm.
“I can't sleep,” Coulson said. “Tell me a story.”
Clint settled back into his chair. “A story about what?”
“Whatever you want.”
Clint thought for a minute, and then put his hand over Coulson's. Coulson entwined their fingers together.
“Once upon a time, there was a little scrawny kid who ran away to join the circus...”
* * * *
“Are you seriously telling me that you two haven't even kissed?” Maria asked.
“I need better friends.”
“You need better taste in drinks,” Jasper responded, taking a sip of the cocktail in front of Coulson and then spitting it back into the glass.
Maria and Coulson managed to look outraged and disgusted at the same time.
“That was mine!” “That was hers.”
“All right, geeze, next round's on me.” Jasper headed to the bar, Maria's glare following him the whole way.
“Seriously, you haven't kissed?” Maria asked, turning her glare on Coulson. “It's been a year.”
Coulson shifted uncomfortably. “A year in which AIM tried to take down SHIELD and I got blown up by an incompetent assassin. It hasn't been for lack of trying.”
Maria shook her head. “Would it have hurt less if he'd been competent?”
“Probably,” Coulson replied with a smile.
“He still complaining about getting blown up?” Jasper asked, depositing three red cocktails on the table. “You'd think it was the first time someone tried it.”
Coulson ignored the comment in favour of taking a sip of his drink. “Just a daiquiri,” he told Maria.
Maria nodded and took a long drink of her own.
“What did you think I was going to do to it?” Jasper asked, too bemused to actually have his feelings hurt.
Before Maria could respond Clint had caught her eye and was moving towards them.
“Do not make me break out the mistletoe early,” she said.
Before Coulson started to ask what she was talking about she had grabbed hers and Jasper's drinks and was pushing Jasper out of the booth.
“Not leaving on my account?” Clint asked.
“Your boy could do with a...” Maria elbowed Jasper in the back and pushed him towards an empty table before he could finish his observation.
“My boy?” Clint asked, smiling.
Coulson exaggeratedly lowered his head onto the sticky table in front of him. Clint laughed and slid into the booth, pushing up close to Coulson and resting a hand on the back of Coulson's neck, gently massaging it. When Coulson raised his head Clint was so close that it took no effort at all for Coulson to lean forward and kiss him.
It started as a quick press of lips but as Coulson moved back Clint moved even closer, put his arms around Coulson's neck and pulled him in for a deeper kiss. Coulson groaned into it, grateful for the noise of the bar, and wondered how they'd managed a whole year without jumping on each other at every opportunity.
“I'm less than twenty minutes away,” Clint said, breathless and flushed.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Coulson asked.
* * * * *
Coulson hadn't been to Clint's new apartment yet and he didn't have the opportunity to look around now as he was pushed up against the door with Clint's hands and mouth everywhere.
“Been dreaming about this...” Clint moaned, pulling at Coulson's jacket.
“God, me too,” Coulson panted, trying to take his pants off over his shoes and then laughing a little hysterically as he realised what he was doing.
They got there in the end though, naked and in Clint's bed, Clint scissoring Coulson open with a competency that sent Coulson's heartbeat into overdrive.
“Please, just...” Coulson couldn't find the words for what he wanted, what he needed, but Clint was right there, pushing inside, filling him so completely that he didn't know where one ended and the other began.
Clint kissed him, as the feeling became almost too much. And Coulson kissed back as his own body felt like it was on fire, Clint's touch sending him over the edge until nothing mattered but the two of them.
* * * * *
The next morning should have been awkward. At best an “I'll see you later,” at worst creeping out on to the fire escape. Instead Coulson found his way around Clint's kitchen, “why do you have so many half-eaten pizzas?” and made them breakfast in bed. And Clint woke up enough before his second cup of coffee to thank Coulson with a blow job that made his toes curl.
“Maria will be pleased,” Clint said casually, as they got dressed and ready to head to work.
“Not as pleased as me,” Coulson said. He smiled as Clint flushed and kissed him quickly, a promise of things to come later.
“We should go to work,” Clint said, though he made no move to leave.
“Yes,” Coulson replied. Then he straightened his tie and looked more serious. “Just promise me one thing?”
Clint sobered up immediately. “Of course. What do you need?”
“Don't take on more bad guys without calling me before you do something incredible.”
Clint snorted and relaxed. “You know you're just as bad, but yes, okay, I promise.” He put his arms around Coulson's neck and drew him into a kiss. “It's no fun without you anyway.”
Coulson smiled and leaned into Clint. “My thoughts exactly.”
* * * * *
When they got to work it was to find someone (Jasper) had filled Coulson's office with obscenely shaped balloons. Coulson had vowed revenge and for the next few weeks no one was safe from getting caught in the crossfire.
But Coulson spent every night at Clint's and whether it was having his brain sucked out through his cock or planning elaborate pranks together, Coulson knew there was no one else he'd rather be with, and no where else he'd rather be.